Palau Workshop Report - Epic Diving!
Palau Workshop Report - Epic Diving!
UWPG's Recent Philippines & Palau Double Workshop was a Great Success - Read Why this Location Rocks
By Todd Winner
Palau has to be one of the most picturesque places on earth. With hundreds of mushroom shaped rock islands covered with lush green foliage surrounded by turquoise water, it's a “postcard” location. Underwater, Palau offers exceptional dives with shark-filled adventures at Blue Corner, unique dives at Chandelier Cave and Jellyfish Lake and some good WWII wrecks. The Bluewater Photo workshop was held on the Palau Siren. This was a combo trip, so the guests had already spent a week aboard the Philippines Siren with workshop host Mike Bartick.
I arrived a few days early so I could get a chance to dive with Sam's Tours, one of Palau's premiere dive operations in Koror. Sam's Tours is located in Malakal Harbor and the Palau Siren anchors right out in front. Sam's is very comfortable to dive with. They provide transfers to and from whatever hotel you are staying at and they have a well-stocked rental department and pro shop. They offer shower facilities that are clean and have large separate rinse tanks for gear and cameras. Most importantly, all of the staff is friendly and many of the dive masters have been with them for years. After a day of diving you can relax at the Bottom Time Bar & Grill, located inside the Sam's Tours facility. With a great atmosphere, it's an excellent place to get some good food, drinks and to swap some fish stories. Another plus: the break-wall right in front of the restaurant is one of the best places to see and photograph mandarin fish.
S/Y Palau Siren
The S/Y Palau Siren is one of the newest ships in the World Wide Dive and Sail fleet. Launched in July 2012, she was built in Indonesia as a traditional “gaff rigged Phinisi”. She is 131 feet in length, can accommodate up to 16 guests and is built from ironwood and teak. It is a very luxurious vessel! The crew was attentive to all our needs and prepared some very delicious meals. All of the diving was done from one large covered skiff. These are the typical boats used in Palau and they are well suited to Palau's shallow reefs and can easily pick up divers if they get separated due to currents.
Even though this was the off-season we had very nice weather. We had a few rain showers but the wind did not present a problem until the last day. For the most part we had more sun than we knew what to do with. Many of Palau's sites feature steep walls on which soft corals, sea whips and fans can be found. Almost all of the sites have large formations of hard corals. We dove the majority of the well known sites including German Channel, Ulong Channel, Shark City and of course, Blue Corner. Blue Corner is a world-famous site known for sharks. And while a good place for sharks and large schools of fish, the real highlight for me are the friendly napoleon wrasse. These guys will come close enough to let you pet them. We got a chance to dive a few WWII wrecks including the Iro Maru and the Jakes Sea Plane. Then it was time to dive what I consider to be some of the best underwater photo opportunities in Palau, Chandelier Cave and Jellyfish Lake. Chandelier Cave features four large air filled chambers with stalactites hanging down into the water, and is a great place to capture reflections. Jellyfish Lake is filled with harmless jellyfish that have lost their stinging ability. You can only snorkel but it is a really unique experience and offers many photo opportunities.
Because this was a combo trip and all of the guests had already spent a week with Mike Bartick in the Philippines, I did not spend much time covering a lot of the basics. Most of the workshops were dedicated to post processing and Lightroom workflows as well as strobe positioning and wide-angle techniques. We had a lot of individual and small group discussions about how to take particular types of shots and on maintaining underwater camera equipment. All in all I think we came away with a number of quality images and hopefully everyone learned a few new tips. To join us on one of our upcoming Blue Water Photo workshops please check out the trips page.
About the Author
Todd Winner is a professional underwater photographer and cinematographer, PADI scuba instructor and owner of Winner Productions, a boutique post production facility catering to Hollywood's most elite cinematographers. Since taking up underwater photography in 1990, Todd Winner has won over 60 international underwater photo competitions. His images have been published in numerous magazines and online publications. His work has been featured in commercial advertising, museums and private galleries. To see more of Todd's work or join him on an underwater workshop, please visit www.toddwinner.com.
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